Al Qaeda Ordered Saudi Bombing From Iran
November 23, 2003
RIYADH -- A senior al Qaeda militant orchestrated the bombing of a residential compound in Saudi Arabia earlier this month by telephone from Iran, a Saudi newspaper says.
Okaz newspaper, quoting informed sources on Sunday, said the militant network's security chief Saif al-Adel gave orders for the attack in the capital Riyadh by satellite phone.
Neither Saudi nor Iranian officials were immediately available to comment on the Okaz report.
"The sources said Saif al-Adel led the bombing operation of the Muhaya residential compound, using a Thuraya phone to give instructions to the terrorists in the kingdom who carried out the criminal operation," the Arabic-language daily said.
"The sources said that the terrorist Saif al-Adel is in Iran," it added.
At least 18 people were killed in the Muhaya bombing two weeks ago, blamed on Saudi-born Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. The attack followed triple suicide bombings in Riyadh in May which killed 35 people.
The newspaper said Saif al-Adel fled to Iran with 500 al Qaeda members during the intensive U.S. bombing of Afghanistan in late 2001. It said they were detained by Iranian troops.
Some al Qaeda militants in northern Iran were in touch with figures outside including bin Laden, it added.
Asked on Sunday about U.S. media reports that bin Laden and top al Qaeda figures may be in Iran, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters in Tehran:
"These are rumours...We are serious about confronting al Qaeda. We have always been and will continue to be so."
Iran has said it arrested a number of al Qaeda members, including some senior figures, but has declined to name them and says it will not hand them over to U.S. officials for questioning.
Last month, Tehran said it had given the names of extradited al Qaeda suspects to the U.N. Security Council but declined to give any details of detainees remaining in the country.
Western intelligence sources and media reports suggest Iran may be holding Saif al-Adel.
Washington has in the past accused Iran of sheltering al Qaeda and said members of the militant network in Iran may have planned the May bombings in Riyadh. Iran denied the charges. http://uk.news.yahoo.com/031123/325/eepow.html